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Major Donors Tell Why They Give

Tuesday, 18th May 2010 at 10:49 am
Staff Reporter
Australia's major donors often feel underutilised by charities who only want their money, according to a new report.

Tuesday, 18th May 2010
at 10:49 am
Staff Reporter



Major Donors Tell Why They Give
Tuesday, 18th May 2010 at 10:49 am

Australia’s major donors give because they believe they have vital contribution to make, but feel underutilised by charities who only want their money, according to a new report.

The report found that the most inspiring environment for giving by major donors is with charities who engage them in a well contextualised relationship, shaped by candid conversation.

The findings come from a series of conversations with major donors in Australia by Relate Partners and provides Not for Profit organisations with confirmation that personal engagement is the key to receiving larger contributions.

From the face to face discussions, the group of major donors say they give most to causes that impact people in need, to charities that can leverage their giving, and when personally asked by a well informed representative in an appropriate way.

Director of Relate Partners, Steve Gleeson, reports that these major donors share some very basic motivations and that they don’t simply give because they can, they also give because they want to and believe they have a vital contribution to make.

Gleeson says major donors typically ask the very basic question, “How can I best contribute to help address this need?”.

Charities that engage these major donors personally get their largest gifts and communication is key.

According to the ‘Conversations’ just how it happens, how frequently, what form and/or who by makes a big difference to these major donors.

Appreciation is important and major donors value thanks as much as any person.

Major donors say they are sceptical and tired of direct mail and do not respond with their biggest gifts to this solicitation method. Whilst they all prefer to be asked clearly, directly and personally for their major gifts, they don’t expect it to be the CEO.

These high capacity donors say they generally need contact with someone who knows the work, can inform them well, be clear about what they want and is prepared to ask for it.

Allowing major donors to inform the method of engagement and communication, by hearing directly from them, is a real positive towards expectations being met, and their giving being maximised.

Nic Capp, founder and director of Relate Partners, says as they spoke one-on-one with these major donors, it was clear that they were buoyed by talking about how to improve their giving experience.

Capp says they want to be better engaged because they want to help as best they can.

Major donors acknowledge they have disproportionate capacity to resource charities and they often want to give more than money. Typically highly skilled, vastly experienced and well networked, major donors say they feel underutilised by charities who only want their money.

The report says when these high calibre people ‘buy in’ to a purposeful endeavour, they want to contribute well and often are willing to contribute beyond financial donations. Their life and business skills and experience can not only be invaluable to a NFP in an advisory or board function, but when utilised they can be extremely motivating to the major donors in their resourcing capacity.

Relate Partners specialise in major donor personal engagement and had conversations with 14 major donors who agreed to respond to a range of questions, in order to help inform the fundraising practice of Australian Not for Profit organisations.

The full report can be viewed at

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